by Pa Rock
Last week while I was in San Diego I decided to spend a day exploring the seamier end of Coronado Island. The northern end of the "island" (actually a peninsula) is home to the beautiful Del Coronado Hotel, thirty-some retired Naval Admirals (including Jim Morrison's dad), two condos with ocean views owned by Mrs. John McCain, thousands of other parcels of very pricey real estate, and a large naval installation. Four miles to the south at the tip of the "island" is the other economic extreme: Imperial Beach (referred to by the locals as "I.B.").
Last year HBO aired a series about a family of worn-out surfers and their weird, druggie friends who inhabited I.B. The show, John from Cincinnati, bit the dust after just one season, leaving me and the other dozen or so regular viewers feeling devalued and betrayed by corporate America. Ratings trump quality every time!
That morning I stopped by a neighborhood Subway for breakfast before heading south. There was an old Hispanic lady (probably about my age) with dyed red hair and grey roots leaning over the sandwich ingredients and rattling on (en Espanol) about each ingredient to the server. I stood behind her patiently for five minutes or so while she carefully ruled out each option. When she finally left, sans a sub, I placed my order and then asked the server about where to catch the public bus to I.B. The bus stop, he told me, was just around the corner and it ran every half-hour on weekends. The fare was $2.25. "No, no!" his assistant interrupted, "tell them you are a senior and it is only one dollar. I do that all the time!" Gracias, senora. I paid for the subwich and headed out the door to catch the bus.
There was a three-person bench at the bus stop. The red-headed sandwich critic was in the seat nearest to the street, the middle seat was empty, and a beautiful young Weimaraner dog was tied to the railing of the third seat. I considered my options and sat down in the seat to which the Weimaraner was tied. Then the young girls began to descend on the dog like so many Hitchcock birds. "Your dog is beautiful!" they chirped and tweeted. "Thank you." I replied proudly.
Old Red looked at me dumbstruck and asked, in perfect English, "Is that your dog?" "No," I told her honestly. And she began to laugh, and the laughs turned into guffaws! I was suddenly funnier than Leno!
The next flock of girls swooped in and began petting the Weimaraner. "She's wonderful!" They twittered. "What's her name?" "Sugar," I replied politely. "Oh," they cawed merrily, "that's so sweet!"
When the crowd finally flew on by, Sugar and I were able to finish my sandwich in relative peace. Old Red struggled for breath for awhile, but finally got it together without wetting herself. She and I hopped on the bus to I.B., and Sugar was left behind to pleasure the tourists on the classier end of the "island".
Coming Soon: The Roses and Surfers of I.B.